COLUMBUS – A move to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings in New York and San Francisco has prompted Ohio lawmakers to rush to prevent similar efforts here.
House Bill 201, promulgated by Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday, prohibits municipalities from banning customers from using natural gas or propane. The change was passed even though no city in Ohio currently has such a ban and current law allows customers to choose their energy source.
Still, proponents of the change say removing natural gas from the mix would dramatically increase the price of energy for Ohioans.
“It would be an incredible problem for people across Buckeye State if we didn’t come out in front of this,” said Senator Rob McColley, R-Napoleon.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that forms beneath the earth’s surface and, when burned, emits carbon dioxide emissions.
For supporters of natural gas bans in California and elsewhere, the restrictions are aimed at curbing climate change.
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But Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, introduced his bill to ban those bans to ensure customer choice.
“Here in Ohio, we want to promote a fair market for all Ohioans, consumers, so that we have the energy options that work best for them – this legislation is helping to make that a reality,” Stephens said.
Opponents say the change removes local control and gives natural gas an advantage not offered to renewable energy resources. Meanwhile, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 52, which would add another hurdle to wind and solar projects in the state.
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“The government shouldn’t be about picking winners and losers,” said Representative Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson. “This is the only thing this unnecessary law manages to do by promoting the proliferation of natural gas and propane.
The bill was passed by the Ohio Legislature along party lines and takes effect in 90 days.
Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.